For two years Melbourne’s CBD restaurants had a rollercoaster ride of Covid closures with six individual lockdowns totaling 262 days of closed doors. Fine diners pivoted to extravagant take-away meals and pre-mixed cocktails, and when they finally reopened for good there was concern about what the future might hold. Luckily for hospitality businesses that had been pushed to the wall, what they found was a huge pent-up demand for dining out.
“We’ve only seen the energy of dining out grow week on week, not just in the demand for reservations, but also there’s been a noticeable increase in guests dropping by more spontaneously for drinks, late night supper and everything in between — it’s brilliant,” says Shane Lazzo, venue manager at Gimlet at Cavendish House.
Here are five of the best places to dine in the Melbourne city post-Covid.
Gimlet at Cavendish House
Gimlet is part of Melbourne chef and restaurateur Andrew McConnell’s Trader House stable that features some of the best restaurants in the city. Gimlet actually launched just before Covid hit and is now booked solid for months.
“We’re hearing international accents again, chatting to guests from interstate and seeing the return of ‘the long lunch’ during the week,” says Lazzo. “The vitality of the city is palpable, and I think restaurants play a big part in that magnetism.”
Gimlet is housed in a classic 1920s building and leans into roaring ’20s glamour with checkerboard floor tiles and intimate booths. The wood-fired oven is the centerpiece with most dishes from the fresh Spencer Gulf prawns to the late-night burgers getting a lick of flame. 33 Russell Street